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Faces of Death (1978)

3.9
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Ratings: 3.9/10 from 4,287 users  
Reviews: 88 user | 31 critic

A collection of death scenes, ranging from TV-material to home-made super-8 movies The common factor is death by some means.

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(as Conan Le Cilaire)
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Title: Faces of Death (1978)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Michael Carr ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Samuel Berkowitz ...
Himself - Cryogenics patient
Mary Ellen Brighton ...
Herself - suicide victim shown jumping out of a window
Thomas Noguchi ...
Himself
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Storyline

A 'mockumentary' hosted by Dr. Francis B. Gross, a coroner. He is trying to show you the different 'faces' of people while dying. There are faked scenes of people getting killed intermixed with footage of real accidents. There are executions by decapitation (in an unknown Arab country) and the electric chair. One scene shows a group of tourists in Egypt smashing a monkey's head while still alive and eating its brains. There are shots of animals eating people and Satanic orgies using dead bodies. There is a segment that deals with an alligator that accidentally entered 'residential' waters. The local warden goes in his boat to get the crocodile back into the sea when he accidentally falls over and becomes gator bait. The film ends with newsreel footage of people jumping off buildings and major accidents. Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Banned in 46 Countries!


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

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Release Date:

10 November 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Original Faces of Death  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$450,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film contains real stock footage of accidents, suicides, autopsies, and executions. It also contains many deaths that have been proven as staged. See more »

Goofs

Narrator claims the gas chamber was introduced in California in 1938. Wrong. It was introduced in Nevada, in 1924. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Dr. Francis B. Gröss: During the past 20 years I know that my compulsion to understand death was much greater than just an obsession. My dreams have dictated my mission. But now it is time to witness the final moment, to discover the circle that forever repeats ifself. The end of the beginning or the beginning of the end? I'll leave that decision to you.
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Crazy Credits

At the end of the film, the credits say "Special thanks to the mummies of Guanajuato, Mexico" See more »

Connections

Featured in The Cinema Snob: Faces of Death (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Life
Music by Gene Kauer
Lyrics by Jerry Winn
Sung by Bruce Scott
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Grim, sickening and, at times, silly
3 August 2009 | by (Edinburgh, Scotland, UK) – See all my reviews

Faces of Death is a curious viewing experience. The variety of emotions it triggers is unusual. From pure revulsion to unbridled laughter, this film certainly covers a lot of bases. Where the real material is genuinely disturbing, the faked stuff is often so poorly done it makes for unintentional comedy. At the very least, Faces of Death can certainly not be accused of being boring.

The credit sequence kicks in with scenes from open heart surgery and an autopsy. It's pretty grim stuff quite frankly and not exactly the kind of material you want to digest immediately after dinner. The early parts of FOD in general are more horrific; in particular, the slaughterhouse sequence. It's pure horror. If there is any positive legacy from this documentary then it must surely be that it's made a few more people aware of the terrible route some animals are forced to take on the way to our dinner plates. The treatment of the animals in this environment was nothing short of barbaric and very difficult to watch. After this opening bombardment I was actively hoping for some of the famed fake material and thankfully I didn't have long to wait. The political assassination and alligator attack were spliced into the flow, and both were incredibly unconvincing and silly but also a relief from the unremitting heaviness of the preceding material. Some view the fake material in FOD as a weakness, a reason to disparage it. I, on the other hand, thought it was a welcome change of tone and a bit of unexpected comedy relief. The combination of the ultra-grim with fake schlock was ultimately what made it palatable for me.

It has to be said though, that there is an undeniably fascinating aspect to much of the real atrocities on display. It is very exploitative but you do see things that you normally would never see, or perhaps wish to see. The footage of the aftermath of the aircraft crash was haunting and is something I will not forget; the autopsy scenes are grimly fascinating; the Liberian execution is a no-holds-barred presentation of capital punishment. While the scenes of animal cruelty do serve a purpose in that they confront the viewer with some very cruel practices and are legitimate in the sense that they expose some very terrible things that man does to other creatures on this planet; in addition to the aforementioned slaughterhouse scene, there is the extremely unpleasant footage of the seal cull. While stuff like this has been selected with exploitative purposes in mind it does make the viewer think about wider issues, which is certainly unexpected. Some of the most famous sequences turn out to be fake however, for example the monkey meal and the electric chair scene. Although these, along with the death cult section, are all pretty graphic none-the-less and operate successfully as tasteless exploitation fodder.

Overall, I found Faces of Death to be compelling. I was genuinely sickened in places, disturbed in others, fascinated at times and even enlightened here and there. I also was amused too by the more ridiculous fakery. It's a hell of a combination that some people will regard in highly dubious taste. Some of it SHOULD shock you and some parts of it will stay with you long after. It's not a film to sit down with the family after a good meal. But this shockumentary/mockumentary is certainly something to behold.


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